فصل 13

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فصل 13

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Chapter thirteen

Closing Speeches

Beverly Monk had some information. She’d managed to trace a friend of Claire’s, Phoebe. When she called Phoebe, she found out that Phoebe had also received a call from someone pretending to be Jeff Kerr. She knew it wasn’t, but had spoken to him anyway. She hadn’t seen Claire Clement in four years. Beverly told Phoebe that she wanted to contact Claire again. Phoebe told her Claire’s real name.

“It was Brant. Gabrielle Brant. She was from Columbia, Missouri. She had a boyfriend who was crazy and so she changed her name and left town. I think her father’s dead. Her mother was a professor at the local university.”

“Is she still there?”

“I have no idea.”

“I’ll try to find her through her mom. Thanks, Phoebe.”

Beverly took an hour trying to reach Swanson on the phone to sell him this information. After checking with Fitch, Swanson offered her two and half thousand dollars. They bargained for ten minutes, and finally settled on four thousand, in cash. Swanson immediately flew to New York, arrived at dusk, and called Beverly’s roommate, who told him that she might be at a party. He called the pizzeria where she worked, and was told she’d been dismissed. He drank coffee, made phone calls, and waited.


Marlee wanted one more meeting with Fitch. Fitch could have kissed her feet when he saw her.

He decided to tell her everything about Hoppy and Millie and the scam which had gone wrong. Nicholas must talk to Millie immediately, before she spoke to the other jurors. What would she do when she learned the truth? It would be a disaster, no question about it.

Marlee listened without reacting as Fitch told the story. It amused her to see Fitch sweat.

“I think we should get her off the jury,” Fitch declared, when he was finished.

“Relax, Fitch. Nicholas and Millie are quite close. Millie will vote the way he wants.”

Fitch tried to smile. “Just out of curiosity, how many votes do we have right now?”

“Nine. Look, Fitch, you’re worrying too much. You’ve paid your money, you’ve got the best, now relax and wait for your verdict. It’s in very good hands.”

“Will we get all twelve?”

“Nicholas is determined to get them all.”

Out of the building, Fitch was almost dancing. Jose had never seen his boss so happy.


Wendall Rohr and Durwood Cable were each practicing their closing speeches. In a conference room, in front of seven lawyers, Wendall Rohr walked forward and back, speaking softly, with carefully chosen words, to his jury. His voice was warm and rich, filled with sympathy one minute and hard words for the tobacco companies the next. He lectured and persuaded. He was funny, and he was angry. He finished in fifty-one minutes. The closing speech had to be an hour or less - Judge Harkins orders. The comments from his audience were tough. Rohr agreed to perform again. It had to be perfect. Victory was so close.

Cable had a larger audience. He was videotaped, so he could watch himself. He was determined to do it in half an hour. The jury would like that. Rohr would no doubt go on for longer. Cable delivered his closing speech, then watched the video. Again and again, throughout Sunday afternoon, and into the night.


By the time Fitch arrived at the beach house, he was his normal pessimistic self again. The four CEOs were waiting, having just finished a fine meal. Jankle was drunk. Fitch was questioned about the two million dollars he’d required from each of them. He explained that the defense had a very large, unplanned expense.

“Do you have the votes, Fitch?” asked one of the CEOs.

“I believe I do. The verdict has been purchased.” His voice held a touch of pride.

“How?”

“I’ll never tell,” Fitch said coolly. “The details are not important.”

They stared at him. Eight times they’d been to the edge of disaster, and each time Rankin Fitch had saved them. Now he’d done it again. “How much?” Jankle demanded.

“Ten million. I’ve purchased the verdict for ten million dollars. That’s all I’ll say. Of course, nothing is guaranteed. You never know until the jury comes back.”

Well, it ought to be guaranteed, at a price of ten million dollars. But the CEOs said nothing.


There was a general feeling among the jurors that Sunday night would be their last in sequestration. The mood was more relaxed, and many of the jurors packed up their things. It was the third night of personal visits. Marlee and Nicholas ate pizza in his room and discussed their plans.

Marlee left at nine. Nicholas went to see Hoppy and Millie. They were full of thanks. Millie was worried about staying on the jury. She’d discussed it with Hoppy and didn’t feel she could be fair after what had happened. Nicholas had anticipated this and wanted Millie to stay on the jury. If she told Judge Harkin what had happened, then the Judge would probably order the trial to be held again.

“It’s our job, Millie,” Nicholas said. “We’ve been chosen to decide this case. It’s our responsibility to reach a verdict.”

Millie agreed. Her new friend Nicholas made everything easier.


After failing to meet with Cable, Derrick had to deal with Cleve. They met in the Nugget Casino on Sunday night, and drank a beer. Cleve gave Derrick a packet containing fifteen thousand dollars. The other ten thousand would be paid after the verdict, as long as Angel voted for the plaintiff.

After Cleve had left, Derrick stayed behind to gamble. He bet heavily. The beers kept coming. Down to seven thousand dollars. He wanted to cry. But his luck changed, and he left the casino with nearly eleven thousand dollars.

Although it was too late for personal visits, he got in his car and started to drive to the Siesta Motel. Soon he noticed blue lights behind him. He stopped the car.

“Have you been drinking?” asked a policeman. Derrick was taken to jail. A five-hour stay was automatic for drunk drivers. He couldn’t phone Angel from jail, but he had to reach her before she left for court.

At five-thirty on Monday morning, Marvis arrived at the police station to collect Derrick. Derrick gave his brother two hundred dollars, and borrowed his car. He raced to the Siesta Motel and tried to wake Angel by throwing stones at her window, “Don’t move!” said a voice behind him. Derrick turned to see Chuck, one of the deputies, with a gun. “Hands up.”

Derrick was taken to jail for the second time that night.

Angel slept through it all.


On Monday morning, while Nicholas helped Mrs. Grimes prepare Hermans breakfast, he dropped four small tablets into Herman’s coffee. They wouldn’t kill him. Herman would be sick for four hours, then recover completely.

Nicholas carried their breakfast back to the Grimes’s room. Mrs. Grimes thanked him; such a nice young man.

The drama started half an hour later. The door to the Grimes’s room was open and Herman was bent double on the bathroom floor. Lou Dell ran to the phone and rang the emergency services. Nicholas said to Rikki that maybe it was a heart attack. Herman had had one six years ago.

The ambulance arrived and Herman was taken away. In the confusion, Nicholas managed to knock over the coffee cup. Lou Dell called Judge Harkin.


Pynex shares opened high on Monday morning. There was good news coming out of Biloxi, though no one knew the source. All tobacco shares rose in early, heavy trading.

Judge Harkin arrived in court at nine-thirty. He’d been arguing with Rohr and Cable. Cable wanted a new trial after the loss of another juror, but the Judge didn’t agree.

Fitch sat in amazement. How do you give someone a heart attack? Was Marlee capable of poisoning a blind man? Thank God she was on his side.

Judge Harkin told the jurors that Herman wasn’t in danger. Everyone was very relieved, and Shine Royce took Herman’s place. The Judge asked Wendall Rohr to start his closing speech. It went well, lasting forty-eight minutes, and he ended it with some figures. You could value Jacob Wood’s life at a million dollars. Add some other damages, and the total sum that the family were due was two million. But there was also the role of punitive damages. How do you punish a company that has $800 million in cash?

He was careful not to suggest a figure.

In response, Durwood Cable took slightly more than half an hour to dismiss the idea that you should give millions to the family of a man who’d smoked for thirty-five years. It was just a means of getting money. He appealed to the jury’s sense of fairness, asking them to judge the case on facts not emotions. He had the jury’s complete attention.

The Judge told the jury that the case was now for them to decide. He asked them to select a new foreman, in place of Herman Grimes. As the jury left, Nicholas turned and looked at Fitch. Fitch nodded.

Fitch left the court and went to his office. Marlee phoned.

“Fitch, I have new transfer instructions for the money.” She wanted it sent to a bank in Panama City. “You have twenty minutes, Fitch. The jury is eating lunch. If I don’t have confirmation by twelve-thirty, then the deal’s off and Nicholas will change direction.”

Within ten minutes the money was on its way. He received confirmation by fax. At 12:20, Marlee called her banker in Panama, who confirmed receipt of ten million dollars.

Marlee was in a motel room ten kilometers away, with a fax machine. After five minutes, she instructed the same banker to transfer the money to a bank in the Cayman Islands. Nicholas called at twelve-thirty to learn that the money was safe. Marlee went straight to the airport, where a small plane was waiting.


Swanson had waited patiently for Beverly. She’d rung him at 3:30 A.M. Monday morning, obviously drunk, and arranged to meet him at 7 A.M. in the coffee shop. She was four hours late, and looked drugged, but Swanson could have kissed her.

“Have you got the money?” There was no doubt what the money would be spent on.

“Yes, but tell me about Claire.”

Beverly gave him the information she’d got from Phoebe. “Now give me the money” she said.

Swanson handed her the envelope. “Thanks,” he said, and disappeared.

He finally reached Fitch on the phone just after one. By then, Swanson was on his way to Missouri.

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